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Kitchen Garden Journal

Fresh Start!

new barnThis is the new view of our Sunderland farm, with a brand new barn and high tunnel that are already providing major improvements to our capacity and quality of life this season.

sugarloafWe bought a small piece of land in Whately on the Connecticut River (one of the skinny green strips visible from the top of Mt. Sugarloaf) and in addition to giving us more land to grow on, this additional acreage also provides opportunities for resting and rotating our fields to improve our soils.

This week the first greens and radishes from the field are being processed in the new wash room, solar panels are going up on the south facing roof, and tomatoes are starting to flower in the new tunnel. 

red-radishWe'll be back at farmers markets in Greenfield and Northampton this week and we're thrilled to announce we'll be at two Boston farmers markets this season: Copley Square on Tuesdays and Watertown on Thursdays. We're excited to bring our vegetables and sriracha to the bustling Copley Square market on Tuesdays but seizing this incredible opportunity required us to make the difficult decision to stop attending the Forest Park farmers market in Springfield. We are grateful to all our Springfield customers who have supported us during our farm's first 10 years and we'll miss you! 

pepper traySave the date for Chilifest Saturday Sept. 17 & Sunday Sept. 18 at Mike's Maze in Sunderland. We're growing more varieties of hot peppers than ever and we already booked an incredible lineup of bands, some fantastic new food vendors, workshops and demos on growing, preserving and cooking with hot peppers, and some exciting updates to the chili cook-off and hot sauce competitions.

Kitchen Garden Magazine ARTICLEOur sriracha was recently featured in the Boston Globe and Boston Magazine and we're blown away by how it's taken off! Our hot sauce is now available in dozens of Whole Foods and other gourmet and natural food stores throughout the Northeast in addition to all our local shops who have supported us from the beginning. We just passed our organic inspection and we're happy to say this year's batch of sriracha will be certified organic! We're also ramping up production of our tomatillo salsa and roasted chili salsa so they'll be available at stores - not just at Chilifest!

Our farm crew is greenhouse girlsat full strength and we're lucky to have several trusted employees back in new management roles. This week marks the beginning of harvest season and we're excited to welcome a new crop of dedicated and passionate farmers to our team. 

Each year is a fresh start but this year really feels new again. With new infrastructure, new land, and new faces on the farm we've got lots of new energy to grow the vegetables that feed our bodies and souls.

Sriracha Wings Recipe

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 1.01.52 PM

These sriracha wings are irresistable. They have been immensely popular whenever I have cooked them for people, so here's the recipe if you want to try it out for your super bowl party.

My recipe combines elements of Thai fried chicken, Pok Pok's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings, and Buffalo wings. Plus, it features our Kitchen Garden brand sriracha, which is widely available at stores throughout the Valley (see our Sriracha page for a full list of retailers) and beyond.

IMG 37183 lbs party style chicken wings (cut into drumettes and flats)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fish sauce
8 large garlic cloves, 4 minced, 4 thinly sliced 
2 Tbsp minced cilantro roots (optional)
1 cup rice flour (not glutinous rice flour)
Canola or peanut oil for deep frying
1/4 cup Kitchen Garden Sriracha
1/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce 
Homemade roasted chili powder, optional
1. In a large bowl, combine the wings, sugar, fish sauce and minced garlic and cilantro roots. Refrigerate overnight (or put in your entryway since there's not room in your fridge and it's the middle of winter anyway). 
2. 20 minutes before you plan to serve the wings, heat about a quart of oil in a deep cast iron skillet or dutch oven to 375 degrees. 
3. Drain the wings and discard liquid from marinade. 
4.Dump the rice flour or starch onto a large plate and coat the wings thoroughly, a few at a time, then set them on a dusted baking sheet. Use more rice flour if necessary to get a nice coating on the wings. 
5. Fry the sliced garlic until golden and just beginning to brown on the edges, about 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.
6. When the oil is hot, fry the wings, in batches if necessary, until cooked through and golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Drain on paper towels. (The wings can be held for hours, uncovered, in a low oven before being tossed with the sauce and served.)
7. Mix the sriracha with the sweet chili sauce. In a mixing bowl, add the wings and fried garlic slices and drizzle on the sauce while tossing or stirring them to ensure even coating. More or less sauce can be added depending on the heat tolerance of your guests. An extra pinch of homemade roasted Thai chili powder adds an extra hot and smoky kick to the wings.
8. Serve with a garnish of raw and/or pickled seasonal vegetables. 
Note: to make roasted Thai chili powder heat a small skillet over medium low heat. Add whole dried Thai chilies and dry-roast until they change color from red to smoky brown, stirring often. Take care not to burn them. Allow to cool and them grind them to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle or specially designated coffee grinder.

Ten Years and Counting

greens-house-smallThis greenhouse full of greens is a welcome sight as frost is finally putting an end to many of this season's hardiest field crops.

Happily, our coolers are also full to the brim with colorful carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, radicchio and cabbage that will keep us busy and well fed into the deep winter.

barn-construction-smallWe're thrilled to announce that next year we'll have even more room in the coolers since we just started construction on a new barn! The 40x96 building will give us plenty of space to wash and pack our vegetables year-round with a loading dock and enough storage for all our vegetables, equipment and value-added products. We are grateful to have been selected for an APR Improvement grant from the Mass Department of Agriculture (MDAR) to help with the cost of this major investment. We're also excited to install a 27.75 kW PV solar array to offset our energy use in the new building thanks to grants from USDA REAP and MDAR AgEnergy. Caroline spent countless hours this spring writing the proposals and working out the financials to secure the FSA loan and grants to make this huge project possible. We can't wait to start working in the new barn this spring!

This has been a year of intense growth on the farm, with 14 new acres under cultivation across the river in Whately and a significant increase in production. Tim enjoyed his new tractor commute over the blue bridge and hasn't stopped singing the praises of the light sandy soils on the new fields. We got some new equipment, dialed in some new systems and grew some new vegetables.

new-gift-basketChilifest was bigger than ever and we quadrupled sriracha production (we've already sold half of the 16,000 bottles we made). The Greenfield Recorder made a terrific video of how we make our hot sauce to accompany their article and Edible Pioneer Valley just included our sriracha in their Gift Guide! Caroline will be sampling sriracha on Saturday at Provisions 11-2 and Cornucopia 2-5 in Northampton and at River Valley Market on Monday 4-7. For a full list of where to find our sauce visit our Sriracha page.  

Come see us and stock up for Thanksgiving at a special Greenfield farmers market at the Middle School on Federal St. this Saturday 10-1. You can also find our vegetatables at Green Fields Market, Atlas Farm Store, Berkshire Organics and Berkshire Coop Market.

kg-crew-smallIt's hard to believe that 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the Kitchen Garden! We started the farm on just one acre with a rototiller and the two of us and the farm has grown steadily to the 40-acre scale we're at now. 

We are so lucky to have such a fantastic farm crew who share our passion for good food and are happy to work hard alongside us to grow organic vegetables for our community. Thank you to Amy, Ash, Clara, Courtney, Davin, Dolly, Emily, Jess, Julia, Kelly, Laura, Max, Mike, Rosie, Steve, Taylor and all the others who devoted so much energy this year to helping us grow. And thanks to all of our loyal customers without whom none of this would be possible!

2015 Sriracha is Here!

IMG 2263Kitchen Garden Sriracha sauce is back! And it really and truly is better than ever. The peppers this year are amazing! And we’re feeling like we’re getting a lot better at making our sauce at production scale at the Western Mass Food Processing Center in Greenfield.

You can find the sriracha at our farmers markets, on our Etsy site, and at one of many many local markets such as Whole Foods Hadley, Greenfields Market, River Valley Market, Berkshire Organics, Berkshire Coop Market, Sutter Meats, Provisions and Cornucopia. Wholesale is available by emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And of course it will be available at Chilifest this weekend!

IMG 2250This year’s sriracha production is expected to be about 16,000 bottles, or 4 times the amount we made last year! We’ve increased the batch size and we’re now processing 1500 lbs of our own chili peppers every week at our production facility, and we’re hoping to do 8 to 10 batches, depending on how the season goes.

It’s been going great so far. The weather for growing peppers and now ripening them on the plants has been nearly perfect. The quality of the fruit is really unlike anything we’ve seen before.

IMG 2236IMG 3476That’s been translating into some really yummy sauce. Each Monday we bring a load of peppers to the kitchen, wash and stem them, then put them through a huge dicing machine. From there they get mixed with garlic, sugar and salt and put into 55 gallon drums to ferment for 1 week. The following Monday we run the fermented peppers through a milling machine to remove the seeds and skin, and the resulting juice is mixed with vinegar and cooked into sauce before bottling and labeling. We’ve had to learn a lot about how to use all of the small-scale industrial equipment there. All of this is is going on simultaneously at the kitchen, and it’s a big job for 12 people.

If you want to make sriracha at home, here’s our home scale version of our recipe. I’ve been meaning to make some small batch varietal srirachas just for fun. Maybe I’ll get to it after chilifest? Feel free to use whichever types of chilies you have on hand, the proportions will work the same.

Kitchen Garden Sriracha

  • 5 lbs medium-hot red chili peppers (paprika, cayenne, cherry bomb, fresno, jalapeno)
  • 16 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 Tbsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cups vinegar
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum* (optional)

In a food processor, pulse chilies and garlic together until coarsely chopped. In a large bowl or plastic container, thoroughly mix in the salt and sugar. Cover loosely with a towel or lid and allow to ferment for 3-4 days at warm room temperature, 70-80 degrees. After the second day you should see the solids rise and separate from the liquid. There should be lots of bubbles. Stir the mixture every day to make sure the solid part doesn’t dry out too much and start to mold. You can also weigh the mixture down with a clean plate and a heavy object to keep the solids submerged.

IMG 3477After 4 days, heat the mixture gently to a boil in a large pot with the vinegar and simmer for 5-10 minutes. This will stop the fermentation. Allow to cool slightly, then pass the mixture through a food mill or a fine sieve to remove the skins and seeds from the juice and pulp. If desired, add the xanthan gum to thicken the sauce slightly and improve the consistency. (The best way to do it is to use an immersion blender, gently sprinkling in the xanthan gum powder as you blenderize the sauce, so that it doesn’t form lumps.) You can keep the sauce indefinitely in the fridge, or can it as you would tomato sauce.

*Xanthan gum is available at natural food stores or online from Bob’s Red Mill.

Chilifest 2015!

Tim-chiliesThings are heating up on the farm and we've got big plans for Chilifest this year!

2015-ChiliFest-SmallThe biggest pepper party of the year is Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 12 & 13 at Mike's Maze in Sunderland. Advance tickets are available online so get your tickets now and beat the line! 

This has been an amazing growing season and we're hauling in truck loads of gorgeous eggplants and tomatoes, garlic and onions, potatoes and greens. Now the peppers are starting to ripen and we're harvesting literally tons of hot peppers for our Kitchen Garden Brand sriracha. The official release of the 2015 batch will be at Chilifest!

Registration is now open to enter the Chili Cook-Off on Saturday 9/12 and the Hot Sauce Competition on Sunday 9/13. Entries must feature local ingredients and will be judged by local food experts and voted on during the public tasting. Deadline to enter is September 4!

chilifest-tacoWhat could be cooler than slurping a fresh shucked oyster from BerkShore with a splash of KG sriracha? And washing it down with some jalapeno cask beer from the People's Pint? Bart's Homemade is churning a custom habanero ice cream for the big weekend and Neftali Duran is making 100% local tacos served on Mi Tierra tortillas made with Kitchen Garden corn! 

This year's music lineup is awesome. And the Kids will be back and we're excited to hear local punk band Potty Mouth, surf rock stars The Derangers, and local favorites Sun Parade, Great Smokey and The Snaz.

KGF-Pop-up-SmallSpicy food lovers, take note: We are hosting a one-night-only pre-Chilifest pop-up dinner on Sunday, Sept. 6 at the Five Eyed Fox in Turners Falls. 

Tim will be cooking five dishes, each featuring different chilies from the farm. Call early to reserve - seats are limited!

Back in Action!

baby-bokWe just completed our first spring harvest from the field and can't wait to bring our haul to the farmers market this weekend! It's always such an energy boost after months of seeding and planting to peel back the row cover and witness an abundance of food ripe for the picking.  We'll be in Greenfield and Northampton on Saturday and in Springfield on Tuesday. Come say hi and pick up some gorgeous radishes, spring garlic, baby bok choy, scallions, arugula, spinach and greens. 

tractors-whatelyWe planted many of our spring crops in our new field in Whately, where the soil is light and sandy and it was ready to work before all the fields at the home farm dried out. Of course, now everything is perfectly dry... we haven't seen rain for almost a month! If it's a rainy market day please come out and celebrate with us! 

french-radishesYou can also find Caroline this Sunday at the Atlas Farm Store's Spring Festival from 12-4. We're thrilled to to have our spring greens and radishes for sale at this terrific farmstand in Deerfield and Caroline will be offering samples from one of the last bottles of our sriracha in the world (we are sold out until the new batch is ready in September). 

We've got a good feeling about this season - thanks in large part to our fabulous crew.Max-radish

We're getting more done in less time and having fun doing it because of the skill and spirit that these farmers bring to work every day. We love you Amy, Clara, Courtney, Dolly, Max, Mike, and Steve! 

Ready to Go!

kale seedlings

Well it’s been a long, cold winter, and though it seems like it will never end we know that spring is coming. Eventually. Even if we have to force the issue. Our greenhouses are busting at the seams with plants ready to go in the ground. Our crew is back and itching to get their hands dirty. We’ve been getting our equipment dusted off and greased up. And it’s looking like we might actually get back in the dirt this weekend. Fingers crossed.

We have been dreaming and scheming all winter long and have so much excitement heading into 2015, our 10th season farming! We bought 6 acres of land across the river in Whately, and it might be a bit of a trek to get over there but this piece could be a game changer for us. It’s light, sandy, high and dry land of the kind that’s in short supply on our home farm.

Whately landThe new piece just about doubles the amount of prime farmland that we can farm. This year we’re growing 25 acres of vegetables - about half of our land is nice and sandy but the other half is heavier. Many of our most important crops require the lighter type of soil to thrive: carrots, tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, onions, potatoes…. Now that I think of it, pretty much everything we grow prefers this type of soil, so it’s a big deal. Having more land will help us improve crop rotation so that we can more quickly build up our soil fertility across all of our land, and more fertility means more vegetables!

Max tractorWe are also very excited to have most of our amazing crew from last year joining us for another season. Clara, Dolly, Amy, Laura, Max, Steve and Rosie welcome back and thanks for sticking with us! You are the heart of this operation. And we are really jumping out of our skin to have hired two new exceptional people: Courtney and Mike we are so excited to work with you guys!

barlottisWe’ve got a bunch of new crops that we’re excited about growing this year. As I explained in our fall post, we planted a bunch of new garlic varieties and we're really trying to step it up in the garlic department. All of the garlic is up now and looking pretty healthy despite the harsh winter. We’re going to be growing a lot more beans this year: favas, barlotti beans, and romanos. Southern purple hull peas are back on the list again after missing them dearly for many years. We’ll also have a lot more Italian specialty greens: mainly spigariello, a type of kale used in southern Italy, broccoli rabe, and a lot more radicchio. Other notable increases include eggplant and specialty peppers, especially red chilies and habanero types that we’ll be making into our sriracha sauce.

Edible spring 2015Caroline wrote an article about Annie Myers from Myers Produce, a new local food distributor, for the spring issue of Edible Pioneer Valley. Check it out if you haven’t seen it. We are excited to grow more unique specialty items for Annie to bring to chefs and stores in New York and now Boston as well! We’ll be regularly supplying the coops in Greenfield, Northampton, and the Berkshires as well as dozens of great restaurants throughout the Valley, as usual. And our #1 restaurant customer in 2014, The Alvah Stone at the Montague Bookmill, just celebrated its 1 year anniversary last week. We are excited to continue our collaboration with this amazing team, so if you haven’t eaten there yet, what are you waiting for?

We’ll be back out at the Farmers Markets starting in May (with the exception of Amherst Saturday) and we have Market Share cards available. See the list of markets we attend here. We’re looking forward to seeing you all again!

sriracha salsa squareOur sriracha was an astounding success and we have just sold the last of the 4,000 bottles we made last fall at the Western Mass Food Processing Center in Greenfield. We are planning to scale up our production again this year - about four times more than last year - in hopes of keeping the sauce flowing freely year-round starting this September. Bottles are still available at stores all over the Valley, while they last. We're also planning to make a lot more salsa!

On that note, save the date for Chilifest! It will be September 12 &13, at Mike’s Maze here in Sunderland. We’re growing over 40 varieties of hot peppers that will be on display, we’re booking bands and really excited about the lineup of food vendors this year. Stay tuned for more info! 

Winter Wonderland

winter greensWe've been pulling some gorgeous greens out of the greenhouse this week gearing up for our last farmers market of the 2014 season. We're bringing a truckload of spinach, spicy mix and a wide selection of frost-sweetened vegetables to the Springfield Winter Market in Forest Park on Saturday from 10-2. All the details are on our farmers market page. 

It's a special privilege to provide the ingredients for your festive holiday meals!

CDC carrotsThis week we made a second delivery of 1,500 pounds of carrots to the Western Mass Food Processing Center to be diced and flash frozen for our local school cafeterias. This is made possible by the Franklin County CDC's investment in a new IQF liquid nitrogen cooling system that preserves freshness better because of the quick freezing method. We're thrilled to be able to participate in this important new farm to school program and you can read more about it in this week's Valley Advocate.

In other news, we're very excited that our Sriracha was featured in the 2014 Holiday Gift Guide in Edible Manhattan! It's been wild starting to ship our sriracha around the country but we're also thrilled to report that you'll soon be able to find our hot sauce at Whole Foods in Hadley! 

Dolly and ClaraThank you to all of our loyal customers for your support all year. It's an honor to grow food for you all!

Thanks are also due to our amazing farm crew, many of whom we are so happy will be returning to work with us again next season. We couldn't do what we do without all of you!

Here's to spring and more good things to come in 2015!

-Caroline & Tim